Back somewhere in the 1980s, there was a flurry of interest in the phenomenon called the pole shift. There was a book by that title and other books predicting cataclysmic earth changes, such as Hal Lindsay’s The Great Late Planet Earth and other apocalyptic titles. Those books tended toward the speculative side favoring prophecy over science, largely because there wasn’t much credible science to support the idea that the poles were going to shift. Gradually the subject faded away and not much more was heard about—at least in popular culture—about an impending pole shift.
Now comes the revival of the pole shift and this time it has the wind of science behind it. Take a look:
“ONE DAY in 1905, the French geophysicist Bernard Brunhes brought back to his lab some rocks he’d unearthed from a freshly cut road near the village of Pont Farin. When he analyzed their magnetic properties, he was astonished at what they showed: Millions of years ago, the Earth’s magnetic poles had been on the opposite sides of the planet. North was south and south was north. The discovery spoke of planetary anarchy. Scientists had no way to explain it . When next the poles change places, the consequences for the electrical and electronic infrastructure that runs civilization will be dire. The question is when that will happen.
“Today we know that the poles have changed places hundreds of time, most recently 780,000 years ago. (Sometimes, the poles try to reverse positions, but then snap back into place, in what is called an excursion. The last time was about 40,000 years ago.) We also know that when they flip the next time, the consequences for the electrical and electronic infrastructure that runs modern civilization will be dire. The question is when will it happen.”
The above two paragraphs are from an essay that was adapted the The Spinning Magnet: The Electromagnetic Force That Created the Modern World—and could Destroy It, by Alanna Mitchell. The book was published January 30 by Dutton. A long sub-title, and the one for the essay is even longer…and more scary:
The Magnetic Field Is Shifting. The Poles May Flip. This Could Get Bad.
The shield that protects the Earth from solar radiation is under attack from within. We can’t prevent it, but we ought to prepare.
That pretty much summarizes the essay and no doubt the book. But are we to take this seriously, or is the author just trying to get our attention? Probably the answer is both. On one hand, it might take a couple of thousands of years or more before the pole shift takes place. In geological time, that’s virtually now. In human terms, it’s something out of our sight, a possibility in the distant future. Then again, combine with what science now knows about the unstable core with the unstable human domain in regard to a potential atomic attack somewhere, and we could be in big trouble.
Mitchell points out that the population of the world has doubled since 1970 and the planet is stressed. She says it’s time to wake up to the dangers and start preparing. Good luck with that when in the U.S. the climate change deniers are in power. But even if you don’t read the book, take a look at the essay. It spells out the dangers.
The pole shift could be lumped into the same realm as the mass arrival of aliens from elsewhere (and I don’t mean Mexico). Certainly either event would change our reality. One thing is certain, if the poles did shift in our lifetime, the consequences would be far more devastating than simply the North Pole becoming the South Pole…and visa-versa.
The shift would cause a serious weakening of the shield around our planet that protects us from radiation. The satellites that control our power grid would burn out in mass. As a result: no lights, no computers. You couldn’t even flush your toilet or fill your car with gas. Not a pretty picture.
There’s also a related article out in Newsweek. It notes that pole shifts typically occur every 200,000 to 300,000 years. Except this time. There has been no pole shift for 780,000 years, and now signs from the Earth’s core indicate one could be approaching. Does that mean within years, within this century, a thousand years, five thousand years. We don’t know.